Leclerc looked poised for a title challenge for the first time in his F1 career after winning two of the first three races and was promoted to the early points lead thanks to victories in Bahrain and Australia.
But as Max Verstappen and Red Bull took the lead in the fight with the help of a car that was clearly one step ahead in performance from the summer break, Leclerc could only have one more win all season.
He had Leclerc fight for second place at the end of the season, eventually moving Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez to second place by three points. The Ferrari driver received his second prize in the F1 championship at the FIA’s awards ceremony in Bologna on Friday.
When asked if splitting the Red Bull drivers in the final qualifying gave him much satisfaction, Leclerc said: “To be honest, it’s not very satisfying.
“Looking back at the season, I think it was a good season, especially considering 2020 and 2021, which were two very difficult years for the team.
“It was unclear whether we would take such a step forward and finish second in both the drivers’ championship and the builders’ championship. So I am happy.
“But of course, looking a little closer at the season, there was the very frustrating middle part of the season where we didn’t get everything together until Sunday. And that was frustrating.
“Very mixed feelings about this season. But second place is pretty good. I hope this is a step forward and we can take another step for next year.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18
Photo: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Leclerc withdrew from a race lead three times, suffering engine failure in Spain and Azerbaijan before losing the lead in France.
Ferrari’s strategic mistakes in Great Britain and Hungary also didn’t help Leclerc’s cause, as the summer races turned the championship momentum in Verstappen’s favour.
Leclerc’s mistake in France led to one of the most emotional moments of the season when he shouted into the radio in frustration over his mistake even though he knew his chances of winning were high.
“I think the races are going pretty fast in the heat of the moment and the season,” said Leclerc, speaking of his struggle to contain his frustration.
“So I think it’s okay. We’re just at the end of the season, and then you look back at the season and you feel it a little bit more. But throughout the season it wasn’t that difficult.”